Overland Park & Leawood

August 20, 2013

Kansas City’s Head for the Cure team honors 3-year-old daughter

In its 11th year, the Head for the Cure 5K raises money for brain cancer research and treatments.

She loved giving hugs. She insisted on being polite. Purple was her favorite color.

Sometimes, with a mischievous grin, the 3-year-old would spread out her arms and gleefully run around the house, pretending to be an owl, her long blonde hair flying in the breeze.

These fragments of Allie — memories and facts — are all Kyle and Kelly Fisher have left now.

And it’s still a devastating shock for the young Overland Park couple.

In March, Kelly Fisher tried waking her daughter one morning. Allie was unresponsive. After rushing to Children’s Mercy, numerous tests couldn’t pinpoint an exact diagnosis. Allie was given medicine and sent home a week later. She appeared fine, giggling with her big sister and playing with her favorite puzzles.

But a month later, she started falling down a lot and her attention span shortened. There were seizures. Vomiting.

After more trips to the hospital, the Fishers received every parent’s worst nightmare: Their daughter had a very rare and fatal brain tumor.

Knowing time was slipping away, Kyle, Kelly and their 6-year-old daughter, Evie, spent as much time with Allie as possible.

Even in the midst of her suffering, Allie comforted her parents when they wept at her bedside.

“Why are you crying?” she would ask. “Don’t cry.”

She passed away on June 13.

“If we had lost her in March, we would be a different family right now,” said Kelly Fisher. “To have those last two months with her was a blessing, because we spent as much time with her as we could. We loved her and hugged her tightly and did things as a family. She was so happy.”

While they grieve, the Fisher family is preparing to honor Allie’s memory the best way they know how. They’ve signed up for the Head for the Cure 5K, which raises money for brain cancer research and treatments.

At first, they thought only a few people would sign up to be on their team, Little Owl. Their family, friends, and coworkers proved them wrong, bringing their team’s total to around 160. It is expected to be the biggest team of the event this year.

And their giant team is only a fraction of the growth Head for the Cure has experienced over the past couple of years.

VML Chairman Emeritus Matt Anthony founded the event more than 10 years ago, in honor of his younger brother Chris, who suffered from a fatal brain tumor.

The event has grown into one of the largest 5Ks in Kansas City. Now, it has people slipping on their running shoes all over the nation to raise awareness. The Head for the Cure 5K has already expanded to nine more cities this year, including Houston, Tulsa and St. Louis. Next year, it has plans to add nine more cities.

“Celebrating the 10-year mark last year was really the tipping point in our momentum,” Anthony said. “It’s exciting that we’re raising more money and impacting more people. When you get a bunch of people together for a good cause, nothing but positivity can come from that type of energy.”

In 2004, money raised by Head for the Cure helped launch the Brain Tumor Trials Collaborative at the University of Texas M.D. Anderson Cancer Center in Houston. The program promotes clinical trials investigating new treatments for malignant brain tumors.

Money raised by each 5K event go toward the BTTC. Money from the Kansas City event, which will be held at 8 a.m. Sunday at Corporate Woods in Overland Park, will also go toward the University of Kansas Cancer Center and Solace House.

The Kansas City event is expected to draw more than 5,000 runners and walkers this year.

Last year, there were around 200 teams in Kansas City. Anthony and his Head for the Cure crew expect even more this year.

“This disease can be so isolating to patients and families, because people want to help but their options are limited,” said Emily Fuhrman, director of events and programs for Head for the Cure Foundation. “This event gives people a way to be directly involved and show support. That’s why teams are so popular.”

Kyle and Kelly Fisher couldn’t agree more. They’re grateful for the support shown to them through Team Little Owl.

They can’t think of a better way to remember their happy little girl.

“Every single day without her is hard for us, but we really see those three and a half years we had with her as a gift,” said Kyle Fisher. “Our focus is to help others now because that is the only way we can honor Allie. Hopefully, as her parents, we can give her the lasting legacy she deserves.”

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